Friday, March 30, 2012

A beautiful morning...

today had a rough start... alittle someone didn't want to sleep much last night and while i didn't get up, the sleep quality was less than ideal. I slept through the alarm and skipped out on the morning trek to the basement to ride the rollers. Did the usual routine, banana, coffee, Bible, CH Spurgeon, coffee, then email. Open email to find out that i'm a winner!!!! know i know what you're thinking, "no this wasn't some spammer from nigeria." I won free books! Last friday i entered into the usual free-stuff friday at and today i find out that i won. This is a huge blessing and providence. I have been of a dichotomous mind of late and this offering should help.

So excited...

if you're like me and you like free stuff or you like books or better yet free books, then head on over here


Friday, November 11, 2011

Blessings... I just keep on counting

Happy to say that on Wednesday I became a dad again!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beauty: Schizophrenia as Poetry

The opening session of PSYCH 101 had Dr. Smith with his the class of 150 fresh-blooded freshman, listening to 6 written passages (the 6 courageous souls should be commended as some of them were outright tonguetwisters), trying to evaluate unaided the origin of each. After once through the class was asked to give their impressions. Answers varied greatly from modern poets, ancient philosophers and everyone in between. He then enlightened us that 3 of the passages were from modern poets, while the other 3 were from a man who was institutionalized for schizophrenia. He invited us to listen again and try to decode which were from which source. Knowledge that there were only 2 possible sources did not make this task one bit easier. As part of this class we are to participate in an online forum, discussion, questioning, evaluating, critiquing and even outright disagreeing with that which we are presented or read in our text.

The exercise brought me to this revelation, although only so two days later early in the morning after a great Friday night with some new brothers and sisters.

Beauty: Schizophrenia as Poetry
Who could have thought that the line between poetry and a mind in utter chaos could be so fine? Schizophrenia is a terribly complex disease of the mind, which strikes with little warning, and yet it, if only to the untrained ear, can sound with all the beauty, eloquence and marvel of poetry.

The A.D.A.M Medical encyclopedia defines schizophrenia as a complex mental disorder that makes it difficult to:

• Tell the difference between real and unreal experiences

• Think logically

• Have normal emotional responses,

• Behave normally in social situations

This all makes sense as poetry is about beauty, emotion and life. Poetry while it has its devices; is free from many of the constraints of much of the other types of acceptable literature. Poetry, to me, is a response to the world, a response to one's surroundings, one's emotions, one's passions and desires. Poetry is a window, not as words into the mind, but rather into the soul of one's being. Poetry isn't about logic, normal behavior, social acceptance, controlled emotion or even staying in a present reality. Poetry is more than just the words, as those with schizophrenia are more than just the disease. Poetry is unconstrained beauty in words and schizophrenia is a mind not aware of the pressures of society to achieve perfection, to be better, to jump higher, to run faster and to earn more.

Beauty is a harder concept to grasp than one would think. Beauty, not unlike poetry, is not objective but rather terribly subjective. What one considers pure radiance, another thinks as absolute rubbish, and another still surmises it as just mediocre at best and while schizophrenia is horribly shunned in our society due to our set of societal norms it doesn’t belittle the beauty that is the person with schizophrenia. We seen a brief glimpse of that beauty during this exercise for which I am grateful. We must remember to separate the person from the disease; we all live, we all die, we all carry the same intrinsic value; we are all created beautiful.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Writing...the good, the bad, and what i write

Today was a pretty easy day, PSYCH 101 where we were asked to differentiate between 6 oral passages; 3 from a schizophrenic patient and 3 from "modern" poets. Easy right, well not quite so. The distinction between poetic and neurotic is seemingly as fine a line as that between confidence and arrogance.

Psych 101 was followed closely by ENG 101 - writing for academia or something of the like. This is the course for those who have in the past, distant or near, have already been to post-secondary education. As i am a illustrious graduate and distinguished alumni of Mohawk College (Slowhawk Cottage) I am not allowed to take the Global Issues class that all other newbies are required.

First off, the class size was far more manageable than that of pysch, or chem or bio for that matter, all of which have 130 plus plus in them. ENG 101 had about 30. The prof, a "mad woman of the attic" by her own admission, went through the first day rigamarole of rules and etiquette and all that jazz that we would be required to live up to for the next 4 months or so. But unlike the other 4 classes, she actually made us do work! Incredulous i know. This lovely woman, was passionate and i had a front row seat to the action, mostly due to the fact that all the freshman students seem to arrive to their classes redonkulously early. Keeners humph.

The first assignment was a 3 minute drill to free write to the question, "why write?" She then asked if anyone would be willing to share. Completely out of my character (very introverted, don't like to read aloud), i freely (well no one else was forthcoming) offered my response. It was well received with something to the effect of a "wow" from her to which i responded, "I'm old". She then asked me to read it again so she could pick it apart, all this was done in a loving manner, one that was extremely building and uplifting. Sometimes it pays to stick your head out, as the guillotine isn't always looming to strike.

We then ended with a "what is good writing? and how does that label apply to you?" question to respond to for submission no less all in 10 minutes...i could have probably wrote on it for a little longer but was generally pleased in my thoughts and the order in which they came out.

Nothing better for a procrastinator than a very tight deadline.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A new day, a new dawn

Today marked the beginning of a new start, having given notice to my past employer some 3 months ago, selling the house, being homeless (or rather without our own house) for 3 weeks, buying a house sight unseen, carting all our worldly crap from onterrible to said house in PEI, and having the last 2 weeks of stay-cation at the new home; today it finally happened.

Today was my first day of school!
My first day of classes at least, i didn't learn much of anything, only that Biology, Chemistry and Foods all in one day is going to be a lot of work, not that i am adverse to work or so much science but it may become a lot. If nothing else it's alot of paper to drag around, well in excess of 4000 pages of text.

Now i know what you are saying, "hey, where's the first day back to school photo?"

Well i didn't take one, that will have to wait until next year or next degree.

I was feeling really anxious about this all last night as i am much older than i look, although younger than i feel. But thanks to a strange series of events, i had a restful night's sleep.

Upon arrival to PEI i pretty much straight away volunteered to take the church youth to Nova Scotia on a "rally". Had an amazing time, and expended far more energy than i had, and received far less sleep than i wanted or needed. Came back right bagged.

On that rally, i had a real God moment, now this is kinda new to me, but the coincidence of falling behind in my morning devotions with all the chaos of moving other lame excuses and whatnot.

But the first moment, first morning of the rally with the overarching theme of WHO.AM.I where the text of my devo was 1 Cor 3:23, " You are Christ's". Okay now that's the short answer and although not one i am seriously struggling with at present, not to say that struggle didn't happen in the not so distant past, nor to minimize the doubt and neglect of owning up to that title of ownership. It was a real confirmation that i was meant to be at the rally, to be there and to be present with the youth.

This morning after much anxiety, more gold from God, via his servant CH Spurgeon who expounded, albeit briefly, on the text of Isaiah 41:14, "'I myself will help you,' declares the Lord." This reminded me of a quote for Tim Keller: "when we worry we're saying, 'I know the way my life is supposed to go; and God's not getting it right!'"

The Lord will provide for all my needs, he knows all the is required and has sufficiency to fulfill each and every need. there is not a thing, need or worry that it is out of his realm of expertise in fulfilling. He who gave us his son as the ultimate sacrifice of atonement is sufficient to give us all that which we require in this decaying world of temporal needs.

God’s Everlasting Love
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[h] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Today, was a good day. It had its hiccups and challenges, but it was good.

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Half way there...

...lots of changes going on in our family.  We had an ultrasound last week and are happy to report that God is blessing us with a, as the medical community puts it, "normal" child.

Thanks to the Author and Creator of life.

Yes, we're expecting.
We're due in November
No, we don't know the gender.
No, you can't touch my belly.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is Just?

Justice is a strange thing in that everyone believes that they are just in their actions.  Most no one believes they act in an unjust manner.  Each and every man can justify their seemingly ill conceived response based on some thing, occurrence or past tragedy.

Justice is tricky in this day and age as it has been watered down, like bad scotch, to make it increasingly more palatable to the masses.

True justice is that which treats every human, as of equal value.  This really should be easy, but our culture seems to have forgotten this and replaced it with, get what you can, trample who you need to and build your empire so that your future and those of your lineage will have security.

Discernment on this issue is more tricky than I would like it to be, it seems so obvious, yet the call to go against the cultural norm is a hard one to take up.

I offer you this story from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12 from the ESV

You Must Be Ready - Luke 12 (ESV)
 35 "Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." 41Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" 42And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

I understand the first half pretty well, be ready.  But questions, not seen before begin to rise, am I the thief?  Have I beat the master's servants?  Am I drunk on desire, material wealth that is not mine, but that which I have been entrusted over to steward generously and justly.

Now, I never before saw myself beating the servants.  But I question it now.

We (Team Awesome, TnT and C-Fresh) recently, went on a vacation with another couple to the Chicago area.  The boys attended the TGC11 conference, which was extremely edifying.  We drove there, the ladies and little men, stayed at a swanky resort in Lake Geneva, which we got at a cut-rate deal.  The guys stayed with some great friends in the "Boystown" area Chicago.  I felt really good about how we were doing this whole trip on the cheap, I'm dutch after-all so spending less money is like a game, a game worth winning.

While we were away, we entrusted our pooch to some friends.  The day before the conference was to begin we received a phone call, said pooch was at the vet, vomiting up blood, a turkey neck (we raw feed) lodged in her oesophagus  right before the stomach.  As many of you know vet's are not cheap, vet's I believe are predator's, much like real estate agents and car salesman, who prey on your emotion's for maximum monetary outcome.  So long story short, by the time of the phone call we were in for about 1G, options were, 1 to refer her to a hospital for scope and surgery for 5-6Gs with a 50% positive outcome, or 2, to allow this vet to call in another and try to force it through for about 2Gs.

We cried.  T recalled how she made fun of me for how I specifically went outside to say goodbye to Monster before we left, to give her a hug.  Yes, she's just a dog, but for the last 2 years she has been family.  T regretted that she hadn't done the same now.  After some quick deliberation, we concluded that we would go for option 2 and should the obstruction not be removable, Monster would simply not be woken up.  We cried some more.  Then we waited.  It's hard to be so far from the action yet held in such suspense.

We would say that "it is only money," but really it's not, it's God's money!  I struggle to justify whether it was well stewarded.  To spend 2Gs in an attempt to keep a dog alive.  A dog.  Our dog.  It's not only money, it's a lot of money.  Is it money that could have been better spent? Undoubtedly.  I am not just.

Last night I concluded reading Generous Justice by Dr Timothy Keller.  All things said, Tim Keller's writing is easy to read, easy to comprehend, yet hard to live out.  He has a style which to me strikes so deep at the heart it's hard to walk away unchanged.  

My wife knowing I had just finished reading it asked, "What does it make you want to do?"

I responded, "Can't i just read it?!"

No, I can't just read it.  It makes me want to do many things, but I think the larger question would be "What does it make you NEED to do?"

I need to stop beating the poor, the widow and the immigrant.  I need to steward the abundance I(we) have been given with generosity and integrity.  I need to live by faith.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith - Galatians 3
 10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 12But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

At this time of year, it is a great reminder that God hate injustice, He deplores our sinful desires.  Yet, He so wants relationship with me, you, us; that He sent His Son, from the incomprehensible riches of heaven to the filth of a stable in rural Bethlehem some 2000 years ago to be swaddled in rags at birth, to live the life we could not live, to die the death we could not die, to pay the ransom for our sin on the cursed cross, to lift the curse of Hell by conquering death and raising us to life, a life of abundance, a life with God.

Praise be to Him, and Him alone.  Him who's sacrificial love makes me long to seek that which is just.

Seek Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Time to start Praying for a Miracle

This is my current MP, and sadly it is all too familiar. My neighbourhood/riding consists of a lot of upper blue collar workers and we're very orange. You would think that me being a dutchie that orange would be a great colour, would you not? Sadly, while the NDP have some merit in a few of thier ideologies, they have shown Ontario what they do when given power and quite frankly at this point, what's the point of voting for a party that isn't going to get any power. Why vote for a party that can't (or doesn't) help our city? Wake up  Hamilton!

2008 Results
Hamilton Centre
Party Candidate                   Votes   Vote Share (%) Status
NDP  David Christopherson 19,945   49.27              Elected
CON  Leon O'Connor           9,055    22.37              New Loser
LIB    Helen Wilson              7,074    17.48              New Loser
GRN  John Livingstone         3,625     8.96             Continual Loser
LTN  Anthony Giles                529     1.31               New Loser
ML    Lisa Nussey                   126     0.31               New Loser
COM Ryan Sparrow                125     0.31               New Loser

2006 Results
Hamilton Centre
Party Candidate                  Votes        Vote Share (%)  Status
NDP David Christopherson 24,503       51.29                Elected
LIB   Javid Mirza               11,224       23.49                Loser
CON Eliot Lewis Hill            9,696       20.29                Loser
GRN John Livingstone          2,022       4.23                  Loser
CAP Tony Des Lauriers           332      0.69                  Loser

Depending on which attrition rate you like better (% or #) and frequency of elections (2-4 years) best bet is wer're still a decade from NDP rule and neglect.

I know that ideologies are idolitical. I'm not in for the "oh no not the liberals", or "oh no not the conservatives" "the sky is falling crowd". I just want Hamilton to vote with the popular vote both in May (federally) and in October (provincially) cause I deeply want Hamilton to get some real proper attention and $$$$.

Just keep praying.

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely"
Caveat: Not to keen on Liberals after Dalton's 8 year reign of taxation terror and misappropriation of funds (E-health, OLG, Health Premium, etc.,...).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fear and trembling...

I am afraid for what this means.

God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. He more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate “temple’ in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life. —D.A. Carson

Monday, March 14, 2011

Riches vs Contentedness

Riches and contentedness are like two buckets; while one comes up full the other goes down empty. —Thomas Adams

I've been struggling with this very problem for some time. I would exert that the riches Mr Adams is refering to here are material riches. In our world of prosperity, there seemingly is a loss of contentment. Everyone is coveting. To paraphrase John Calvin, the human heart is a factory creating idols. This strikes me with deeply. To think that John Calvin, who breathed his final breathe in 1564, and lived in a world depraved of massmedia, TVs, the interweb, and SPAM could see this so clearly startles me.

I have been blessed with much riches, but the correlation between riches and how I covet is overwhelming. I see contentedness as the absence of covetuousness. To be content is to be without want.

April is a bad time for coveting for me. As tax season is here and all the T4s and other financial statements have arrived the taxes are quickly calculated and the coveting begins. With a tidy little sum being owed to us(overpayment to our ungrateful government) I have already found ways to "divide and conquer" the sum. After all, if you buy it you no longer covet it right? Right, except that your heart just moves onto the next thing.

As if a hefty tax return isn't enought for my poor heart, spring brings upon me another reason to covet in that bike season is fast upon us! This is exciting! But as I wander down to the basement I realize that its going to take some cash to get them up and running again. I gave up buying parts based solely thier function long ago. Sure form meets function is great but I buy "bike bling". Parts that are far greater than my ability, far lighter than necessary and far more expensive that any rational man could rationalize. But a covetuous heart is not one where rationality and reason rule the day. Its just a gotta have it.

My heart is an idol factory.

So now with a tax return secured and myself on the cusp of bike season, I find myself coveting like mad, scouwering kijiji, craigslist amazon and other online retailers for all that which will not heal my heart, but breed continual discontent.

My lust list of material goods:
Acoustic Amp - preferably Traynor Studio
Singlespeed 29er
Fender Telecaster or preferably a Musicman Silhouette
Countless books
T-Shirt with caffiene molecule on it
12 string Taylor acoustic
Really comfy club chair for reading
A boxer puppy
Audi R8

Now, heres where discontent becomes a problem not a thing on this list is an essential need.

I have an acoustic guitar, it makes enough noise (proper word) already
I have 4 bikes, I don't need another.
I don't need an electric guitar, money would be better spent on lessons.
I have a mountain of books I haven't even read yet.
I have no shortage of t-shirts
I have a acoustic guitar, it only has 6 strings but exceeds my ability already
I have plenty of chairs, couches, beds, comfort is a want not a need
I already have the greatest boxer to roam the earth
I have a car, sure we only have one, its an 2003 that clunks and rattles but it gets us from point A to B and C and D and Chicago and whereever we want to go.

So here it is, everything on my list of wants are not needs. In fact all my needs are met and my wants were even met at one point as I have a car/puppy/guitar/books/bikes/house.

I am disheartened by the state of my heart. As the bucket of riches is drawn up, the bucket of contentment is going down empty. It seems to be a never ending struggle to find the balance between material wealth and contentment of the soul.

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21 NIV
or perhaps more direct and to the point same verse from the NLT
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts.

We live in this world where we aren't seen as people of God but rather as consumers of stuff. We all have stuff, so much so that we all have basements/garages/sheds/walkin closets/off-site storage units to keep all our stuff. We buy bigger McMansions to house all our material treasures.

I remind myself of a story (Luke 18):

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

The young is one leg, maybe two, up on me, he lived a pious life. I can't say that I have even remotely kept any of the commandments mentioned in verse 20. I would love to say that if Jesus told me to sell everything, I would. I think it fortunate that he hasn't told me directly as with this young man. But I marvel the in the advice given, it truly is timeless. I am having more and more difficulty dealing with the trappings of this "Can-american dream" society that envelopes me.

Continuing the story...
24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

I know that even my driven intent to follow God with all my heart, soul and strength falls so short, and more often that not it would break the "thou shalt not bear false witness" to say that my intent is driven.

I am amazed how easily distracted I am, how even the slightest little thing can draw me from my pursuit of God. It is quite disturbing that you can shop online, while still half engaging in discussion, or watching your children. Whereas study of God requires a calmness, a quiet, a concerted effort, a dedication of your full attention. You can't go halfhearted in pursuit of God just as you can't halfass your relationship with your children, your wife or your friends if the relationship is to be healthy. To grow one must nurture. I am distressed at how the devil seemingly knows the failings of my character, my weakspot and signature sins. How to exploit me, distract me, and outright attack me. How to get me to long after more stuff to fill a hole with more emptiness and more pain. A hole of which there is only One that can fill.

There have been alot of things on my heart lately and sadly most of them scare the bejeebers out of me. That's probably a good thing, time will tell. The road to contentment is a long one.

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:13